The transfer embargo complication which impacts Portsmouth potentially offloading forgotten man in January

Forgotten man Callum Johnson faces an uncertain January transfer window, with the Blues keen to trim their wage bill to fund signings.

Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 11:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 12:16 pm

Yet any potential Fratton Park departure is complicated by loan club Fleetwood’s ongoing transfer embargo which prohibits them paying fees for players.

The right-back clearly has no future at Fratton Park under Danny Cowley and is out of contract at the season’s end.

With the Blues currently well-stocked in his position following the summer signings of Kieron Freeman and Mahlon Romeo, Johnson was loaned to Fleetwood in August for the campaign.

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He has gone on to make 17 appearances, establishing himself as a League One regular either at right-back or right wing-back.

The 25-year-old has also netted in two of his last three outings, most recently last weekend with a headed 84th-minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw at AFC Wimbledon.

Tellingly, Pompey also allowed him to become cup-tied, by granting permission for him to feature in Fleetwood’s FA Cup first-round defeat to Burton.

Callum Johnson has been on loan at Fleetwood since August, with no apparent future under Danny Cowley at Pompey. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages

That puts Johnson in the frame, despite an encouraging maiden campaign at Fratton Park last term, making 48 appearances and finishing third in The News/Sports Mail’s Player of the Season.

He has subsequently so far impressed during a season-long loan at Fleetwood, yet the League One strugglers are not in a position to pay a fee to sign him permanently in January.

Neither can he play for anyone else this term having already appeared for the Cod Army and Pompey during the 2021-22 season.

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Fleetwood are among eight clubs presently under Football League tr ansfer embargoes, joining Derby, Hull, Reading, Gillingham, Oldham, Scunthorpe and Swindon.

In the Lancashire club’s case, the sanctions are a consequence of not fully repaying a loan received on top of last season’s grant aid.

It means they cannot splash out transfer fees, although are able to complete free transfers and loans, while wages of new players must not exceed £2,500 a week.

The embargo, which was introduced last summer, is set to run for 12 months, with Johnson’s loan arrival being approved by the Football League in August.

While Fleetwood cannot buy Johnson in January, an alternative approach could be for the right-back to cancel his Pompey contract through mutual agreement.

That would then enable him to join the Cod Army on a free transfer, albeit his wages must not exceed £2,500 a week.

Of course, Johnson may prefer to remain on loan for the remainder of the season and assess his options in the summer as a free agent at the natural end of his Blues deal.

Regardless, a potential January transfer window departure for one of Cowley’s outcasts is not straightforward.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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